Chapter two – This one’s for the Bears!
The only road through Yosemite Park was the 120, also known as Big Oak Flat Pass that turned into Tioga Pass. Roni hated having to take it since if there was anyone in the park that is most likely where they would be. There were many campsites on that road. But she was hoping that most of the people would be gone by now. The ride to the Park had taken all of yesterday and had gone fairly smooth. There were a couple of old dirt bike trails that had cut off much of the highways and she tried to stay on them except for when she had to find gas. But going through the park, she would have to stay on the road, it was simply too dangerous to go off trail. Plus it would take too much time and gas. She hoped to go straight through the park and be well on the other side by lunch time.
By finding a spot off road just before she got to the park on the 140/Yosemite year round hwy; Roni had managed to find a couple of cars with gas still in them and one even had an extra gas can. She kept that and managed to figure a way to hook it on the bike. Not that she liked having ONE gas can at her back, let alone TWO!
Roni was making good time when she got to the White Wolf camp ground. She slowed down to almost a crawl when she noticed that there was something wrong with the site. She turned into the camp ground to do a drive through lookie-loo. Her blood ran cold when she noticed the first bodies. It looked like a family of five had been camping when the EMP hit and their site was totally trashed. But it was human hands that had tied the family up to a large tree and it wasn’t hard to see that the four-legged animals had came after the two-legged ones had left.
Roni slowly made the rounds. It was the same story at four other sites. Two of the sites had worthless RV’s still parked, but ripped apart. How in the world did this happen? Did they simply wait their turn to be killed? Or was there simply too many bad guys and they hit all the sites at once? The latter seemed to be the only reasonable explanation. Was the gang still in the park? Were they still ahead or had they left?
All these questions swirled through Roni’s head until she placed them in the part of her brain that would allow her to stay aware of the danger but not let the horror of it all stunt her abilities to keep her wits about her.
She didn’t even stop at the last site because of the family of bears that were “cleaning” it up. She barely was able to keep the granola bar she ate an hour earlier down.
After debating for just a moment on whether she should move on or see if there was anyone or anything at the Yosemite Creek campground, she turned off the main road towards the site. As she traveled down the road, she noticed that the plant life was already trying to reclaim it. This was hopefully a good sign, meaning that no one had traveled the road in a while. Well, that turned out to be a myth, for when she turned into the site she almost ran over a man standing in the road with a shotgun leveled at her.
OOPs! Too late to turn tail and run away!
The good news was that he hadn’t shot her yet. She skidded to a halt about twenty feet in front of him.
Slowly Roni took off her helmet after turning her bike off. Her long black braid slid over one shoulder. She set her helmet on the gas tank and crossed her arms over it.
“Well, I guess we’ve got two choices here,” she said to the man still holding the gun on her. “You can go ahead and try to shoot me or I can break out a couple cans of peaches, a bit of sugar and flour and whip up a peach cobbler to go with whatever that wonderful smell is that you’ve got cooking.” Then she gave him her best ‘I’m such a good girl’ smile and waited for him to say something.
Brock could not believe his eyes! The woman in front of him either had balls of brass or was crazy to be acting like she was, but man was she a knock out! There was a rope of black hair falling over one shoulder that seemed to glow with a life of its own and her deep blue eyes were direct and honest looking, although wary. Before he drowned in their depths, he decided to take a chance with her and he slowly lowered the gun. And by God are those three freckles dancing on the bridge of her nose?
“I guess I can’t pass up peach cobbler and I think it will top off the venison we’ve got cooking nicely.” Brock said as he walked closer and held out his hand. “My name is Brock Stetson and my brother over there is Kevin.” When his hand grasped hers, what felt like a solid spark was felt by both of them. Both were startled but tried to cover it up.
Kevin came out of the trees as Roni was shaking Brock’s hand and so to try to gather her wits and shake that... whatever it was, Roni introduced herself. “Nice to meet you two, I’m Roni and I’m just passing through on my way to my sister’s place. But I am hungry and will keep my part of the bargain. I can make a mean cobbler over the fire, if I do say so myself.”
For some reason Roni thought she would be able to trust these two. It wasn’t their looks, although they both were very good looking. But more like something in their eyes. There was a kindness despite the haunted look; a deep goodness that seemed to go right to their soul. Roni got off her bike and pushed it closer to the camp site and shook Kevin’s hand.
“So what has been going on here, I found a lot of dead people out there. Is it safe to be here?”
“Well, we didn’t kill them that’s for sure. We only got here this morning and since there was no one at this camp ground we decided to rest up and get better organized.” replied Brock. It seemed he wasn’t able to keep his eyes off of Roni and so he decided to keep talking to her so he wouldn’t seem rude. “We are headed east to see if any of our family made it. We were just north of LA in a town called Mojave when everything stopped and we saw the glow from LA when it was hit. We figured that Edwards Air Force Base would be hit and so got the hell out of there as fast as we could. Thankfully, Mojave had an airport with a lot of steel buildings and we have a friend who kept his vehicles in one and had an extra jeep that he let us have. He took another one and headed out himself. We stocked it up with what we could find and got out of there. We stayed with another friend for awhile but decided to hit the road again to check on our family and here we are. What about you?”
“I’m from Carmel on the coast and a bunch of punks took over the town, killed my best friend, and ruined my window.” Roni deeply sighed with the memory. “I decided it was time to go to my sister’s home and I hit the road yesterday and here I am today hoping to get a bite of that venison soon. Do you mind if I start that cobbler? It will need to cook for a while.”
The three of them settled around the fire as Roni mixed up a cobbler out of a few cups of flour with some sugar tossed in a Dutch oven she pulled from one of her panniers. She topped off the mixture with a couple cans of peaches and set it in some coals she had scraped out of the fire off slightly to the side. She put the lid on top of the Dutch oven she made the cobbler in and scooped up some more coals and placed them on the lid.
Talk turned back to the dead people out there and Roni ended up asking “Do you think whoever did that is still around? I’ll be glad to take a watch tonight.”
Brock again was the one to speak up “We haven’t heard or seen anyone since we got here this morning. We went all the way through the park, but came back here to when we realized that this was the only camp ground with no dead bodies in it.”
“You mean that at the rest of the campgrounds there is the same death and destruction” Roni asked.
“Yes, and it is even worse. These people have been dead for at least two days if not longer and the animals have gotten to most of them. We didn’t find any survivors. We were going to rest up today, get the jeep reorganized and leave tomorrow at first light. Then Kevin here had a shot at this deer that he couldn’t pass up so we decided to try to dry what meat we don’t eat tonight and that may make us stay here another day.”
“Have you gone and seen if you can find a cooler at any of the camp sites?” Roni asked.
“No we haven’t had the stomach for it yet, we just went through and looked for anyone alive; but since we now will be staying tomorrow, we might just go through the sites more thoroughly and see if there is anything we can scavenge. They sure won’t need anything anymore.”
“Do you mind if I stay with you and look around myself? And if we are all headed east maybe we could travel together, safety in numbers and all.”
“We are headed to Colorado, Durango to be exact to check on our family. So you are welcome to come with us that far.”
“That would be perfect, I have to go through Durango to get to my sisters place anyways and I know a couple that lives on the way; they won’t mind us stopping and resting. I sure hope that they are still around.”
Talk slowed down as they ate their dinner and topped it off with some delicious peach cobbler that had Brock and Kevin praising Roni and her culinary skills. Afterwards it was decided who would take which watch. Once the sun went down all the way, they were ready to get as much sleep as possible.
Roni took the first watch and at midnight she woke Brock up and then hit her sleeping bag. She slept like a log! Her last thought before she drifted off was “I sure hope I don’t snore tonight!”
The bears left them alone since they were busy elsewhere.